Lens purposes (not a "what's best" thread)

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Fally, Feb 24, 2008.

  1. Fally

    Fally TPF Noob!

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    Hi all, and there's a reason this is being posted in the "Beginner's Place" lol.

    I said this isn't a what's best thread in the title, but I guess it's more of a "what's best situationally" thread dealing with different types of lenses.

    I'm just getting into photography, have a Nikon D80 with 18-200 f3.5-5. VR lens and SB800 lens. But I'm confounded by all the different types of lenses, and sure I could do a tonne of research through google, and who knows what kind of actual truth might be behind some of the pages I find, so I decided to post my questions on here. I want to have a better understanding of what I'm going to be looking for when I do go to buy my next lens, and the purpose for the purchase.

    I do not have a specific type of photography that I will be doing, however sports and cityscapes interest me greatly, portraiture would be dealt with on vacations, etc but no "glamour shots" :)

    What are the general use of primes (say 50mm or 85mm), what sort of photography makes them shine as a choice of lens?

    What is a macro/micro lens and what is their best situation?

    Thank you for any response, sorry if the question seems dim-witted to many of you :)

    Fally
    aka Scott
     
  2. Rhubarb

    Rhubarb TPF Noob!

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    Hey there, and welcome to the forum.

    The lens that you are starting of with is pretty cool, in that you have such a wide range focal range to work with. So what I would do is shoot heaps with it and after you have taken a few thousand pics you will know 2 things.

    What focal length you shoot most at, and what you like and don't like about the 18-200mm VR. These two things will help you greatly in deciding what other lens' to invest in.

    As an example using the same lens, I found that most of my shots were taken in the 18 - 50mm zone, and that I also wanted to be able to shoot wider than 18mm. So I picked up a Super Wide Angle lens and I'm looking at picking up the 17-55 f2.8.

    As a general rule you are much better of investing cash into lenses which should last you 10+ years and many bodies of camera, rather than spending all your cash on your camera body (which you may only have for 3 -5yrs before upgrading) and only have enough left over for crap lens.

    In this day and age you're going to get great pictures with an excellent lens and average body, as opposed to the best body and average lens.
     
  3. Stranger

    Stranger TPF Noob!

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    the prime lenses.. say 50mm and 85mm are mostly used for portraits.
    Some will use the 50mm as a general walk around lens because it is an excellent lens to have for around $100. Tack sharp, really no reason not to own.

    Other than that Rhubarb got it right i think. Use what you have a decide what you like to do. If its nature, get a nice wide angle lens.. If you like portraits, grab a nice prime (ie 50mm or 85mm).. If you like street photography, grab a nice short or midrange zoom. Sports, get the 70-200 VR...


    Once you learn you will know what you need. Dont get caught up in the lens hype and buy stuff you will never use.
     
  4. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    If you stick with primes you find that the two you use the most will be a slight wide and a short telephoto.
    A 35mm (or it's digital equivalent) is about right for general landscape work. An 85mm to 100mm is best for studio portraits - you can get far enough away not to interfere with the light but close enough to be intimate. And the slight foreshortening is flattering to the face.
    A zoom that covers these two (while not having quite the quality of a good prime) will deal with a lot of general work.
    The 50mm prime is one of the most useless of lenses. Not quite wide enough for landscape, and you have to stand too close for portrait. I don't think I've had a standard 50 on my cameras in over 30 years :lol:
     
  5. Fally

    Fally TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm interested in more sports photography (if I'd go to more sporting events) and cityscape photography. Living in Ottawa (nations Capital of Canada), there are a tonne of opportunities, even from the tops of parking garages to get decent photos of people passing by, etc.

    My main enquiry I guess is just to find out what the most common uses are for the certain types of pictures I could be taking with specific lenses. I've been looking at the 70-200 f/2.8 VR and really like the idea of it.

    Price is always a concern too as I'm not a professional, and I don't think I will ever make any money off of this hobby so I'm not set on buying crazy expensive glass (other than the above lens), but I want to know what popular uses are as well, as that might sway my choice.

    Only question unanswered is the difference between macro and micro lenses.

    Thanks again for the input, the idea of checking to see what distance I'm shooting at most often is a good thing for me to look into.

    Also, does a camera body start to "wear down" after so many clicks of the shutter, or is being trigger happy still an acceptable method of photography? Does the sensor have a certain number of clicks before it needs to be replaced?

    Thanks again,

    Fally
     
  6. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Speaking as a 70-200 VR owner, I have to respectfully disagree with this. If you are using the lens only for sports, get the 80-200 f/2.8 instead of the 70-200. It is half the cost, every bit as sharp and built like a tank.

    The VR feature of this lens is useless in sports shooting, and expensive.
     
  7. patrickt

    patrickt TPF Noob!

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    Primes: they are generally smaller, but not always, and they are generally faster. In the evening and in fairly dark interiors, such as old churches, I like having a prime for the wider aperture. I also prefer using the faster zooms for portraits for better control of depth-of-field. On the other hand, you are stuck at one focal length.

    Focal lengths: Wide-angle lenses are popular for landscapes and interiors. Personally, I enjoy wide-angle shots. Telephoto lens are for shots of subjects you can't approach. The moon, a bird on a tree limb, and so forth. I don't use telephotos much. If I do, it's to get shots of people in crowds, like at parades. There are computer programs that will group your shots by focal length so you can learn which focal lengths you tend to use the most.

    Zooms: are convenient. That's it. They're generally slower than primes and less sharp. But, for me they're sharp enough and they're sure convenient.
     
  8. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    For those of us that spent less than $5000 on the camera body, the 50 mm is ideal for indoor portraits, giving the same FoV as a 75 on a film camera. The 85 mm was ideal for studio portraits with film but not with digital unless you have a cavern for a studio. I use the 85 for outdoor portraits.
     
  9. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    It took me a while to understand why you said "useless.
    Now, a question... Suppose I'm using a slow shutter speed to pan a runner, would the VR help or hurt or neither? Also, can the VR feature be turned off when desired?
     
  10. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    For sure, but I wouldn't worry about it unless you're a professional. It'll probably be obsolete before you wear it out.
     
  11. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Generally in sports, the shutter speed is high enough to for camera shake to not be an issue, VR will also not stop blur from subject motion, and Depending on the lens VR either does not help or must be turned off while panning or tracking motion. So VR is pretty much not utilized in sports. It could be useful if you were shooting wildlife, concerts, theatre and other things requiring long shutter speeds with relatively static subjects.
     

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